“You’re really nice and that scares me.”
Those were the words out of her mouth when I was driving her home from my parents house. I was 16 at the time, and she was one of the first girls that had shown interest in me. How can being nice scare someone? Shouldn’t she be worried that I’m an axe murderer or hide bodies in the trunk of my car? Checking in on her, telling her how much I care for her and like her on the second date seemed to chivalrous and direct. How could I be wrong? I even went out and bought a whole new wardrobe that day because she mentioned she didn’t like my shoes in an offhand comment the day before.
“I just can’t be with someone like you,” she said. I couldn’t breathe. “That’s cool. I’m going to go out tonight to party. Peace.”
I thought this single comment would show my edge and win her back, but she got out of the car and went inside. How dare a woman not like me for simply being who I am? I reached a turning point. I could rely on the tactical pick-up artist (PUA) stuff I was listening to and reading, or I could break it down step-by-step myself so that I could become a man who naturally attracted women who were right for me. I had to take baby steps. I set a goal for what I wanted to be: An all around awesome guy who could make people laugh and smile, who valued himself, and was driven and passionate about life.
But it all started with figuring out what being a nice guy actually meant. I read books, PUA material, asked women, men, friends, and talked endlessly about how to overcome this challenge in my life. I was going to do whatever it took to get this handled. After a lot of digging and research, I had figured out what a “nice guy” actually was: It’s a polite way of a woman telling me that I lacked personal boundaries, I went above and beyond to please them, while not giving myself what I needed as a man. That is repulsive to women. A man can be many things, but lacking self-care is not one of them. I was constantly putting everyone else before me. Through trial and error over the past 10 years, I learned how to become a man who is confident in himself. No more Mr. “Nice Guy.”
Here’s what I did to overcome “nice guy syndrome”:
1. I LEARNED THAT IT’S OK TO CARE, BUT I DON’T HAVE TO SACRIFICE.
Nice guys think that if they don’t go to the end of the earth for someone, they’re bad people. Last week, I spoke with a friend in Japan who was going through a challenging time. The old me would have tried to give advice and tell her everything was going to be OK but the new me listens and recognizes someone for where they’re at and acknowledges when they’re going through a hard time. I’m not responsible for making everyone else’s lives perfect. It’s OK to care about someone but that doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice all of my energy trying to help them. Remember: the flight attendant says put your oxygen mask on first. If you’re dead emotionally, how can you save someone else?
2. I STARTED SAYING NO.
I had to learn to stop agreeing to everything because I thought it was the right thing to do. My time was valuable and I needed to take care of myself first. That meant saying no to extra work hours, relationships that weren’t serving me, charities that I didn’t believe in, or someone asking for help when I was spread too thin.
3. I AUDITED MY FRIENDS.
Sticking with the same friends that I had had for a long time felt loyal and honest and those are two characteristics I highly value. However, hanging out with friends that weren’t motivated, wanted to get drunk all the time, and had an overall negative outlook on life was no longer serving me. I had to let them go because not setting boundaries with my male relationships was affecting my relationships with women.
4. I REFUSED TO BE TREATED LIKE A DOORMAT.
I no longer accepted when people I knew made me the butt of jokes or talked down to me. Even if they were older (like my boss at work), I let it be known that I wasn’t accepting that kind of behavior anymore. In turn I held myself to a higher standard as well.
5. I ACCEPTED WHERE I WAS IN LIFE.
Accepting where I was in life emotionally, physically and with women was important. Anytime I felt sorry for myself and looked to external factors for validation never resulted in me feeling better because I didn’t value myself. Once I learned that I had to become happy and accept and love myself first before I got into a relationship, everything became much clearer.